Every time you draft your three outfield slots for your daily fantasy baseball league, you are posed with a big question: should I focus on power here, or somewhere else? This is a seemingly tough decision, but the temptation to believe that it’s not that important is something you need to avoid. It’s important because you only have a limited number of salary dollars to use, and you need to use it right in order to place in the money in your league.
Bryce Harper is the best offensive player in the majors right now. He’s a solid homerun hitter, tied for 7th overall in all of baseball with 31. He leads the majors with an OPS number of 1.084, and also currently has the highest batting average in the majors with .329. He has just 6 stolen bases, but in the grand scheme of things, this isn’t too important. In short, his fantasy numbers are the best combination of consistency and power that you will find. He’s behind in the homers department, but that’s mostly because of fewer attempts at the plate. This is worth looking at a little more closely because Harper’s value is much higher than his salary reflects.
Drafting him in your outfield is almost a must because of this. His salary has been low for a while because he’s not seeing as many at bats as some other players are. Players like Nelson Cruz and Josh Donaldson are seeing more at bats, and thus have higher salaries because of their higher number of hits and homeruns. Simply put, they are contributing more volume. However, they both have played more games than Harper. Harper’s seen 123 games. Cruz and Donaldson each have 129. It’s a 6 game difference, but this could be as many as 30 extra at bats. Harper’s higher batting average (.329) and competitive AB/HR (13.61) ratio mean that if Harper is playing, he is statistically likely to outperform even the HR leader Cruz. Cruz currently has a better overall AB/HR ratio with 12.82, but over the last few weeks, Harper has been struggling. Since August 1, his AB/HR number is a dismal 49.00. This slump has diminished his immediate value, but he is bound to bounce back before the end of the season. In some leagues, it is possible to draft both Harper and Cruz in your outfield and still have an adequate player at every other position, but because of the emphasis placed upon pitching in every major league, adequate is seldom your best choice. Pitchers can score many more points than a great outfielder, so finding a Harper or a Cruz needs to be your second priority behind this.
That brings us back to the original question: should you put offensive power in the OF or at another position? Right now, the answer is outfield, simply because that’s where the best valued fantasy player in all of MLB is. Depending upon your league, that could be either Harper or Cruz. There are some talented players at first base, but none have the same fantasy value as either of these outfielders. The two closest non-OFs are Paul Goldschmidt and Joey Votto. However, the slightly better numbers coming from the outfield make them a safer bet than the two first basemen listed above, so focus on your first outfielder before prioritizing any other position in order to secure the best potential fantasy point scores you can. Next year, this might be different, but for the remainder of the 2015 season (unless there is a late season surge from somewhere), your first outfielder is more important than your first baseman. Choose your first pick here, and then fill in the gaps afterward.
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